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august 2015



Column: Road Trip By Allison Graham

Allison Graham with her father, Tom Graham, starting their trip

Sometimes it’s the trips we don’t plan that become the most memorable. It was the summer of 2002. I was living in Toronto and working as an actress. I returned to my hometown, Perth, for a weekend visit and mentioned to my parents that, come September, I was going to drive across the country to Vancouver, stay with a friend, and we were going to spend the fall months writing a screenplay together. My father, a very loving and protective man, didn’t think that was the best idea. One of his daughters driving across Canada by herself. But on that particular July day, he simply smiled, nodded his head, and said “I’d love to come with you, if you would like some company.” I was determined to drive alone. I was imagining this trip as a Jack Kerouac “On The Road” adventure; just me, on a highway, with no map, and no plan. Every morning I’d get in my car and see where the day would take me. I explained this to my father one subsequent evening, to which

he responded by telling me about the hitch hiking venture he took to the east coast when he was a young adult. He said that it was one of the most formative experiences of his life and he was appreciative of that week of solitude, which offered him time for self-reflection. He then said, “But it’s always nice to have someone . . . for conversation.” I was determined to drive alone. The next time I returned home from Toronto, my dad casually gave me some information on hotels that I might want to consider booking along the way. I said, “No thank you. I’m not making any reservations. I’m just playing it by ear and hitting that open road every morning.” He smiled and said that he completely understood and again offered his assistance as a second driver. I was determined to drive alone. During my subsequent visit home, my father mentioned that my car might require maintenance before I left: oil change, tire pressure, fluid levels, brakes...all those sorts of things. He made

himself available, in case I needed anything. I said, “No, that’s fine, I’ll look into it.” This was a coming of age trip and I wanted to be responsible for every single thing that needed to be done. He replied, “No problem, but if you change your mind, I’m here.” I was determined to drive alone. One night, during another stay at my parents’ house, my father called me down to the living room. A map of Canada was spread out across the dining room table. He motioned me over and said, “I projected the distance I think that you’ll be able to cover each day and highlighted that with black marker. I also calculated the time changes that occur as you head west, because that means you will have a little bit of extra daylight for driving. I just wanted to show you this to give you a sense of where you might be ending up each night.” I said thank you, although at this point, I’m not quite sure how nicely I said it. My father reiterated again, that the end of September was pretty clear for

him if I changed my mind and wanted some company. I’m not going to lie. At this point, I was a little angry. I went to my mother and explained, “Dad just won’t let this go, he won’t let up and he’s driving me crazy.” She looked at me, smiled, and offered, “I know how important it is for you to assert your independence and move forward with this new and exciting time in your life. And ultimately this is your choice, but...if you ask your father to accompany you, it will be a decision that you will never regret.” I thought about my mother’s words. As my September departure date was fast approaching, a number of unexpected things materialized on my ‘todo’ list and I began to feel completely overwhelmed. On the day before I was scheduled to leave, I realized that I did need help. I approached my father and asked if he would make the drive across the country with me. A smile slowly illuminated his face and his big blue eyes lit right up. He said, “Of course! I’d be happy to go!” And then, he went into the bedroom, reached un-

der the bed, and pulled out a packed suitcase, that he packed two months ago, on the day that I initially told him about my trip. He was a little more determined to drive with me. The week that we spent driving across the country was amazing. We talked sports, reminisced about past family vacations, listened to books on CD, sang along to Johnny Cash and Kenny Rogers tunes, worked out every morning, had dinner every evening, and saw many great Canadian landmarks...together. When I dropped my father off at the Vancouver airport seven days later, I cried. We hugged and said goodbye. As he boarded a plane back to Ontario, he handed me a ‘Congratulations’ card (with a little bit of gas money tucked inside) and wished me luck with my screenwriting adventure. He got me out to the coast safely so that I could pursue a dream. It’s funny where life takes you and what happens along our travels. And it’s the little thing. Say yes to those little things. Say yes to your children when they ask for one more bedtime story. Say yes to your

Allison Graham with her father, Tom Graham at Lake Louise

partner when he asks for another kiss. Say yes to your nephew when he asks you to play pirates. Say yes to a friend when she asks you to keep a secret. Say yes to a co-worker when she asks you to cover a shift. Say yes to a neighbor when he bikes up along side of you and asks if you want company on your daily jog. Say yes to a stranger when he asks for your phone number (you just never know). And definitely say yes to your parents and siblings when they ask for, well, almost anything. Because, here’s the thing; Those “yeses” are our lives. The little things are the big things; our most cherished memories that we will hold in our hearts forever. And my mother was right (aren’t they always?); asking my father to accompany me on my drive across Canada, is a decision that I will never regret. In fact, it is a memory that is a highlight of my life. Sometimes it’s the trips we don’t plan that become the most memorable. Allison Graham is a regular contributor to the Arts & Culture section of Hometown News.

Discover smiths falls hometown news, august 2015  
Discover smiths falls hometown news, august 2015